Had a major cook-fest with family this weekend to get ahead for Christmas. With 11 people at my parents-in-law’s this year there are a lot of mouths to feed.  And these mouths like to be fed mince pies.  Often.

So Molly and I joined forces with my mother-in-law (MIL) and truly became Christmas Fairies, complete with fairy dust coating (that would be the flour then). We started making the mince pies at about midday which, on a weekend at MIL’s is basically gin o’clock.  So, feeling extremely Ding-Dong-Merrily and Christmas carols blaring, we set to.

Sweating, we bashed out two loads of mince pies. We experimented with two different recipes for the fillings and we also did two different kinds of pastry (yes, I faced that pastry demon again and looked him squarely in the eye this time. I’m not confident enough to say I’m winning but I reckon I could at least stare him down without blinking for a bit). One is a more traditional mince pie and the other a sort of fancy, post-modern version with an almond pastry and frangipani top.  These are packed with whole cranberries and look very festive. Both super tasty.

If you think you might  like to make mince pies this year but don’t have loads of  time, or perhaps feel a bit like I do about pastry, then perhaps worth doing the Cranberry and Apple versions.  You could use shop-bought pastry for the bottoms and do the frangipani topping yourself.  They look rather glam and are a bit different from the usual.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My learnings are that it definitely takes two to make making a good load of mince pies, fun.  With Christmas carols on, and a festive tipple on the go, it really got us feeling super Christmassy.

Ding Dong Merrily Everyone!

Classic Mince Pies

Mincemeat: Combine and mix the following and leave for 24hours

  • 350g each of sultanas, raisins and currants
  • 150g candied peel
  • 125g chopped glade cherries
  • 250g pack shredded suet
  • 350g Demerara sugar
  • 100g pack whole almonds finely chopped in a whizzer
  • 2 medium apples peeled, coded and grated
  • 4 tsp ground mixed spice
  • zest and juice of a lemon and an orange
  • 300ml brandy

Pastry: This is MIL’s recipe and we were aiming for ‘very short’ pastry which I now know means buttery.

  • 450g flour
  • 300g butter
  • 1 egg and water to make up to 3/4 cup, whisked
  • 1 heaped tablespoon icing sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food mixer til a silky dough is formed.  Roll into a ball and refrigerate for at least half an hour

Method:

Roll pastry until a few mm thickness. We used two different sized glasses to create the tops and bottoms and got a production line going.  Get a load of bottoms, add to the trays, fill with mixture, add a ‘top’, squish edges with a fork (just like Snow White). I then created hearts and starts for an extra festive shot and plonked on top.

Bake in a hot oven for about 20minutes.  You want them slightly underdone because they will then colour more when you re-heat them for face-stuffing with lashings of cream.

Cranberry and Apple Mince Pies with frangipani Top

Mincemeat:

  • 450g Bramley apples peeled cores and chopped
  • 225g fresh cranberries
  • 125g finely chopped candied peel
  • 350g each sultanas, raisins and currants
  • 175g each dark and light Muscavado sugar
  • 1 level tbsp ground mixed spice
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of 2 medium oranges
  • 150ml Calvados (French apple brandy.  Just use normal brandy if you don’t have Calvados)

Almond pastry (combine all ingredients in mixer, roll into a ball and refrigerate)
225g plain flour
50g ground almonds
75g golden icing sugar
175g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 medium egg yolks

frangipani topping (this is instead of doing a pastry lid.  THe consistency should be a paste.  If too runny, add more ground almonds.
-200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g flour
2 large eggs
2 tbsp brandy
Flaked almonds to decorate and icing sugar to dust

Beat butter until very soft, in food mixer with paddle attachment, gradually add sugar and ground almonds. Mix in flour, then eggs and lastly the brandy.

Half fill casing with mincemeat then pipe about heaped teaspoon of frangipani or smooth on with a spoon. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake for about 25mins til golden brown and dust with icing sugar